Engineer Rauf Aregbesola, the Minister of Interior, has expressed the readiness of his ministry to collaborate with the Nigerian Air Force in using aircraft to drop water and firefighting chemical solutions on high rise buildings and other places requiring aerial fire management.
Aregbesola spoke while inaugurating a Modern Aerial Fire-fighting vehicle at the Federal Fire Service (FFS), Zone F Command, Lagos State, according to statement by the Director of Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Interior, Malam Mohammed Manga, on Thursday in Abuja.
The Minister added that his ministry was also making efforts to purchase barges that could be used in throwing water from aircraft into bush fires as well as wild spreading fires.
The minister noted further that most fires would have been extinguished at the putative stage if the simplest fire-fighting equipment had been available.
“Some fire incidents are natural like volcanoes, lightening and combustible gases in dumpsites. Some are due to negligence. Others are deliberate. Arson, for instance, is deliberate.
“We should be vigilant at all times and put all safety measures in place. It is also very important that our buildings are fire safety compliant.
“Fire is always an emergency and we should prepare for it as such.
“A small liquid fire extinguisher will save vehicles from burning while motorists without them stand the risk of getting their vehicles burnt down from a little spark.”
While restating federal government’s commitment to safeguard lives and property, Aregbesola said that the present administration would not relent in its efforts towards making policies, resources and strategies for a safer Nigeria.
The minister commended President Muhammadu Buhari for consistently ensuring that FFS was adequately equipped to carry out its mandate of protecting lives and property against the menace of uncontrolled fires as well as natural disasters.
Aregbesola, who noted that FFS was only present in Lagos and Abuja with obsolete equipment and epileptic services, said under the present administration, the agency had spread to nearly all the states of the federation.
He also noted that in the year 2020 alone, it responded to 3,555 distress calls during which N1.351 trillion worth of property and 1,110 human lives were saved from fire dissaster.
Aregbesola disclosed that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved the procurement of 94 fire service vehicles, including 44 fire trucks, 15 water tankers, 15 Rapid Intervention Vehicles and 20 Basic Life Support Ambulances.
This, he said, was in addition to 106 modern fire-fighting trucks and vehicles procured by the FFS between 2016 and 2020.
“Through my initiative, the service is engaging the Federal Republic of Belarus for collaboration that will usher in a better deal, especially in the procurement of Aerial Fire-fighting Vehicles, Rapid Intervention Vehicles, Command and Control Vehicles, and training of fire-fighters.
“The equipment inaugurated, DG54 Aerial Hydraulic Platform Mercedes Benz Fire Fighting Truck, has 54 metres height capacity and will reach the 18th floor of high-rise buildings to tackle the challenge in Lagos with a plethora of skyscrapers, which has been a nightmare to fire-fighters”
He urged the Controller-General of FFS and his management team to put in place measures and strategies that would ensure the effective deployment and utilisation of the asset for optimal impact on the general public.
Aregbesola also called on all relevant stakeholders and state governments in particular, to work in partnership with the FFS to minimise the menace of uncontrolled fires and related emergencies within their respective jurisdiction.
He stated further that the federal government would continue to improve on the nation’s infrastructure as well as bring in innovations, in a bid to protect lives and property and also put fire under control.
According to him, state governments have to raise their game on fire fighting, with the best of efforts, the federal government can only supplement state efforts, but not to replace them.
He also advised local government councils to have fire management capability to reduce fire incidents.
Aregbesola noted that uncontrolled fires represent a serious security, economic and developmental threat not only to Nigeria, but all over the world.
“The prevalence of fire incidents in Nigeria is undoubtedly a source of concern to all levels of government and individuals alike, thus, the need for collaborative effort to check the menace cannot be overemphasised.
“Fire is always an emergency and we should always prepare for it,” the minister said.
Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, who was represented by his Deputy, Dr Kadiri Hamzat, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and Mr Rauf Aregbesola for supporting the state with modern fire-fighting equipment.
“We must commend the Federal Government for the seamless collaboration between the SFS and the FFS.
“Between January and March 2021, we combated 294 fires in conjunction with the FFS.
“On our part, we have also purchased four aerial fire-fighting vehicles, employed 700 fire fighters with 500 more to be employed and also established 18 fire stations across the state.
“This is important as 45 per cent of petroleum products come to Lagos, with the consequences of trucks catching fire, destroying lives and property.
“This calls for the need for the state to work with the FFS to ensure that the combustible standards are met before the truck loads,” Sanwo-Olu said.
According to him, life is the most important gift without which nothing else matters, therefore, fire that consumes lives and property is important to every one of us.
Earlier, the Controller-General, FFS, Dr Liman Ibrahim, commended the Mr Rauf Aregbesola for his continuous support to all the reforms of the service and the President in particular for resuscitating the FFS for improved performance of fire services in Nigeria.
Ibrahim noted that the repositioning of the agency had so far led to the approval for the recruitment of 2, 200 firefighters, among others.
The FFS boss added that the inauguration of the firefighting equipment was a dream comes true for firefighters in Nigeria, especially the people of Lagos state.
He noted that the multi-million naira vehicle would significantly address the fire challenges facing the state as well as minimising the risk fire fighters were exposed to in the line of duty.